Victor Szwed

The Bureau of Meteorology continues to predict that there is a 60 to 80 per cent chance that warmer and drier than average conditions will develop over coming months across much of Australia. Our local weather has been cold and wet and it is not easy to anticipate the significant changes the Bureau expects.

Daylesford had 177.6mm of rain for June, well over the long-term average of 106mm. For the first six months of 2023, we have had 450mm rainfall compared to the long term 394mm average. Even if El Nino does phase in soon, these rainfalls would have re-charged soil moisture levels leading into spring.

If a significant El Nino develops, then Summer fire risk may become a major concern. Around our Shire there are many larger properties that have lots of vegetation including weeds such as gorse, broom and blackberries. It is each owner’s responsibility to manage these invasive weeds and to reduce fire risks. Unfortunately, many areas of Public Lands are infested with such vegetation and those organisations appear to be under-resourced to tackle these serious issues.

Many people have a fire plan and each year do their best to reduce fire risks by removing invasive vegetation and slashing grasslands. Now is a good time to start planning and acting. If El Nino conditions develop, the environment can dry out very quickly and fire risks can start in spring. The current situation in Canada is a warning that fire seasons are starting earlier due to climate change.

While our local weather has been fairly cool and damp, global temperatures continue to warm further. 2023 is trending to be the warmest year since records were established. Carbon levels in the atmosphere also continue to go upwards further exacerbating the warmer conditions across the globe with greater weather extremes occurring such as floods, storms and drought conditions. Earlier this week, Monday July 3 was the hottest global average temperature ever recorded. Until Tuesday when that record was broken. And then on Wednesday when it was broken again.

The Age carried an article last weekend which suggested 2023 might be the hottest year on record. Some key messages included: ice coverage is shrinking; oceans are warming, it’s getting hotter on land and carbon dioxide is increasing.

While it is the responsibility of Governments to legislate and bring in programs to reduce carbon emissions and other pollutants, it is also the responsibility of each person to do what they can to contribute in a positive way. Many locals have taken proactive measures to lessen their carbon footprints and new actions and options continue to become available. If you want to learn more about how you can help, talk to others who have taken action and also have a look on-line, through recognised sites, not the mis-leading conspiracy sites.

There are many web sites that can provide you with information that can assist you to reduce your carbon footprint and also to make informed decisions on how to invest in environmentally responsible funds. Some sites you may like to check out include: Ethical InvestmentWorld Wildlife Fund Ecological Footprint calculator, RACV Sustainability and many more including government web sites and programs.

While some actions such as solar panels and batteries cost significant amounts, there are government subsidies for some of these and many of the simplest energy and carbon saving actions simply involve changing habits and these can save you money.

Victor Szwed is a Daylesford resident who contributes a regular column on the weather.